How’s your mid-century gaydar?
If it doesn’t go off checking out these series of vintage advertisements, it needs some fine tuning.
During the same post war period as the film Carol recreates, Madison Avenue captured that same curious culture of concealment and conformity with a series of sexually ambiguous ads, winkingly called “I Was Curious.”
Running from the late 1940s through the early 1950s, one of the most famous homo-erotic ad campaigns was put out by the beer that made Milwaukee famous, Schlitz.
At a time when conformity was compulsory, clandestine encounters between same-sex individuals were conducted with great caution, and one’s Gaydar had to be finely tuned or face the consequences. When romantic interest was expressed it was done in a circumspect coded and cryptic way.
While these ads ran in the late 1940s homosexuality or sexual deviancy as it was affectionately called, was condemned on all fronts. Psychiatrist considered it a serious mental disorder that needed to be treated and nearly every state had laws criminalizing it.
I Was Bi Curious
The formulaic ads consisted of two heterosexual couples gathering socially, happily imbibing in a beer. But the veiled “curiosity” between the two husbands is expressed with coy, knowing glances as their mid-century gaydar goes off.
Whether the setting was a lakeside picnic, a ski lodge, or a suburban living room, by the third panel of the illustration, nary a woman is present as the men gaze adoringly into each others eyes.
Is it any wonder that in the film Carol, her love interest Theresa is often seen drinking Schlitz throughout the movie?
© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.